Server errors of any kind are a nuisance for sure, but an Error 509 – Bandwidth Limit Exceeded can be particularly enraging since it interrupts the displaying of your website to your visitors. When the Error 509 status appears, a blank page informing about the bandwidth limit being exceeded is all that your website’s visitors can see in their web browsers.
There is no need to get angry at your hosting provider, since the bandwidth is exceeded through no fault of their own.
You’ll only run into this message if you have a limited hosting plan, that is, a hosting plan with limited bandwidth. With limited hosting accounts, a limited amount of bandwidth is assigned on a monthly basis. Therefore, if the allotted amount of bandwidth runs out, your website will stop displaying, and will only start displaying again once the current month is over and the amount of bandwidth resets.
How Does Bandwidth Work
For the purposes of web hosting, the term bandwidth is often used interchangeably with data transfer, however, a distinction must be made between the two concepts.
Bandwidth can be defined as the maximum amount of data that can be transferred in an interval, that is, the rate at which data is being transferred. Bandwidth is usually measured in kilobits, megabits or in case of fiber optics in gigabits per second.
Data transfer, on the other hand, signifies the volume of data to be transferred (every time your website loads), and it’s measured in megabytes, gigabytes or terabytes.
The interplay between these two concepts can be better understood through an analogy. The hosting industry’s go-to analogy to illustrate the relationship between the two concepts it the water pipe example, where the diameter of the water pipe is the bandwidth, and the water that flows through the pipe is the data transfer. The bigger the diameter (bandwidth) the faster water (data) can travel through the pipe.
Another way to illustrate the relationship between bandwidth and data transfer is to think about highway lanes and cars, were the lanes are the bandwidth, while cars are the data to be transferred. When there are way too many cars and very few highway lanes, you may end up with a standstill.
Thus, bandwidth gets eaten up by the amount of traffic your website gets. A website with a high visitor load, needs more bandwidth to be able to deliver data to its users. When you reach your bandwidth capacity’s limit, a 509 server error code appears.
How to fix Bandwidth Limit Exceeded Error
Depending on the profile of your website, a bandwidth limit exceeded error can be a critical issue that must be solved immediately, especially if any time your site is down you may lose money. Even if you don’t generate money with your site just yet, fixing a 509 error can be important from an SEO visibility perspective as well. Search engines may qualify your site as inactive if the situation persists for too long, and remove it temporarily from search engines. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to solve the issue without delay.
Usually, there are two ways to have your site displayed again following a 509 Error – supplement your assigned bandwidth by asking your hosting provider for an upgrade or switch to an unlimited hosting plan if you’re using shared hosting plans.
If you’re using a shared hosting plan with limited bandwidth, you should probably switch to an unlimited hosting plan, where you get unlimited disk space and bandwidth. With unlimited bandwidth, you won’t have to worry about exceeding your bandwidth again.
Web hosting providers like BlueHost, InMotion Hosting, and HostGator offer unmetered or unlimited bandwidth with all their shared hosting plans. Contrary to what is sounds like, unlimited web hosting doesn’t mean infinite resources, only that you are not being charged based on the amount of bandwidth or disk space you use, and instead you pay a flat price to have access to bandwidth and disk space that falls within the normal usage patterns defined by your hosting company. A small to medium-sized website without an inordinately high traffic is unlikely to hit the ceiling of what the hosting company qualifies as unlimited.
If you run into bandwidth limit problems while on a VPS plan, you can simply upgrade to a higher tier plan (VPS with higher bandwidth allocations or a dedicated server), or ask your hosting company to add more bandwidth to your existing plan.
VPS hosting plans are built with scalability in mind, so you can scale up and down depending on whether the complexity of your site and your audience grows or not. Some hosting providers like HostGator and BlueHost allow you to dynamically increase your resources without admin assistance.
It’s difficult to correctly project your bandwidth needs from the start, especially that you don’t know how much traffic you’ll be drawing in.
You could always oversize your hosting plan, instead of under-sizing it, but that may not necessarily be a good financial decision, especially when you’re starting out with an online business. If you under-size, you may run into bandwidth limit exceeded errors.
So how can you get to a number that simply fits? To get a rough estimate of your bandwidth requirements you need to take the following factors into account:
- Average page size (APS) of your website (expressed in KB);
- Estimate the average number of daily visitors (ANDV);
- Estimate average number of pageviews per visitor(ANPV);
- Add extra bandwidth for traffic spikes.
Once you have an estimate of all these factors, one suggestion is to calculate your bandwidth requirements using the formula below:
ANPV x APS x ANDV x No. days in a month (30)
Of course, this is just a rough estimate of what you may be needing. However, you also need to be prepared to traffic spikes, so adding an extra 50% “legroom” can go a long way in avoiding trouble in case of increased traffic volumes. You can also use our bandwidth calculator tool to estimate the bandwidth usage of your site.
To Sum Up
While you can’t always predict how your website will evolve, getting a rough estimate, reducing bandwidth requirements of your site, monitoring bandwidth usage and website traffic as well as choosing a hosting provider that allows the scaling of resources or upgrading any time can help in managing your bandwidth requirements even amidst unexpected events. If you choose an unlimited hosting plan, make sure to go the extra mile and dig into what is the exact threshold set by your hosting provider.